FDNY to Be Monitored for Racial Discrimination

A federal judge rules that an independent watchdog be appointed to boost minority hiring efforts in the nation’s largest fire department.

Posted: 10/07/2011 11:28 AM EDT
Filed Under racism

An independent monitor must be appointed to ensure that the Fire Department of New York fairly hires in an effort to become more diverse, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

 

Judge Nicholas Garaufis delivered his ruling following a civil trial in Brooklyn last month at which officials testified about FDNY hiring practices. New York City’s law department will appeal the ruling, the Associated Press reported.

 

The monitor will oversee aspects of recruiting efforts and will audit and investigate compliance. It will also have the authority to initiate investigations of the hiring of new firefighters.

 

"This lawsuit is on the most recent effort in what amounts to a nearly 40-year struggle to integrate the fire department," Garaufis wrote. "While the city's other uniformed services and fire departments across the country have changed to reflect the communities they serve, employment as a New York City firefighter ... remained a stubborn bastion of white male privilege."

 

In New York City more than half of the eight million residents belong to a racial or ethnic minority. Only nine percent of the 11,200 uniformed firefighters, however, are Black or Hispanic.

 

Since a decade ago, minority firefighters have complained that the FDNY hiring test was similar to the SAT and did not adequately test for firefighting skills. In 2009 Garaufis ruled that the test was discriminatory and in a separate decision he said that the test was being used to discriminate intentionally on Black and Hispanic applicants.

 

No new firefighters will be hired until the new exam, scheduled to be administered in January 2012, is given.

 

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(Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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